'baffling and reprehensible'
June 2, 2020

Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory on Tuesday released a blistering statement about a visit by President Trump to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, slamming the "reprehensible" misuse of Catholic facilities.

Trump on Tuesday was scheduled to pay a visit to the John Paul II shrine in Washington, D.C. after on Monday, he held up the Bible for a photo-op outside of St. John's Episcopal Church. Law enforcement used tear gas to clear protesters out of Lafayette Square before Trump did so.

"I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree," Gregory said ahead of Trump's visit to the shrine, per The Washington Post.

Gregory wrote that Saint Pope John Paul II, "an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings," would "certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace."

Trump's Monday photo op previously drew criticism from Episcopal bishop Mariann Budde, who said she was "outraged" by it, as well as from Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who said Tuesday he's "against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop." Brendan Morrow

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